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Downtown again rocked by violence; Mayor Lightfoot calls mass shooting on Near North Side a ‘horrible tragedy’

Chicago Tribune logo Chicago Tribune 5/20/2022 Paige Fry, Chicago Tribune
Officers put up police tape at the scene where a number of people were shot, two fatally, near Chicago Avenue and State Street on Thursday. © Armando L. Sanchez/Chicago Tribune/TNS Officers put up police tape at the scene where a number of people were shot, two fatally, near Chicago Avenue and State Street on Thursday.

Violence again flared downtown late Thursday when nine people were shot, two fatally, near a fast-food restaurant and CTA station on the Near North Side, a shooting that came just days after the fatal shooting of a teenager near The Bean during a mass gathering of young people last weekend.

People watch officers and paramedics work the scene where two people were shot and killed near Chicago Avenue and State Street late Thursday. © Armando L. Sanchez/Chicago Tribune/TNS People watch officers and paramedics work the scene where two people were shot and killed near Chicago Avenue and State Street late Thursday.

The back-to-back high-profile shootings downtown drew further response Friday from the mayor and police leaders, who have struggled to contain the violence as summer looms. Both Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Superintendent David Brown immediately blamed Thursday’s shooting on parents not keeping track of their children and a flood of guns entering the city, many carried by young people who now use them in fights that in years past may not have been deadly.

A worker sweeps up broken glass from a door of a McDonald's restaurant in Chicago after a mass shooting Thursday night. © Jose M. Osorio/Chicago Tribune/TNS A worker sweeps up broken glass from a door of a McDonald's restaurant in Chicago after a mass shooting Thursday night.

Lightfoot also again called for a visible police presence downtown, including fixed posts at the corner where the shooting Thursday took place at Chicago Avenue and State Street, and at the Chicago Avenue stop on the CTA Red Line. Brown said police had in fact instantly created a fixed post in the area and at the CTA station in question, in addition to roving units.

Lightfoot said too many youths have said they need to carry guns to feel safe, and that needs to be addressed.

“You have a ticking time bomb in your hand, in your pocket, in your purse,” she said.

The latest shooting happened about 10:40 p.m. Thursday in the 800 block of North State Street outside the Chicago Avenue subway station and a McDonald’s. Police said one person started firing a gun into a crowd during a “personal conflict” outside the fast-food outlet, then the shooter and others fled into the Red Line station where one person was injured on the third rail of the subway tracks.

Items used to treat victims from Thursday night's shooting on the sidewalk near Chicago Avenue and State Street on May 20, 2022. © Jose M. Osorio/Chicago Tribune/TNS Items used to treat victims from Thursday night's shooting on the sidewalk near Chicago Avenue and State Street on May 20, 2022.

One person, believed to be the shooter, was arrested and charges were pending, Brown said.

The McDonald’s and nearby blocks have been a hot spot off and on over the past few years. Corporate offices for the fast-food giant declined to comment on the company’s commitment to the location, which was closed by the city Friday.

The mayor resisted any call to bring out the National Guard to deal with violence, as the city saw during days of unrest two summers ago. The main issue is juveniles with guns, the mayor said again, not any issue that military strength could address.

Around lunchtime Friday, State and Chicago was packed with people. Many of them walked up to the closed McDonald’s, which had police tape in front of one door and traffic cones blocking the drive-thru.

One passerby said, “Oh, that was this McDonald’s?”

“Crazy what’s happening in our country right now,” another said, as he changed course from McDonald’s to a Taco Bell next door.

Jim Smaron, a retired accountant who has lived in the area since 2010, said when he first moved to the neighborhood, he considered it safe.

“It seems like in the last three, four years, it’s gotten worse,” Smaron said. “It’s the first time I’ve heard of a fatal shooting in the area from what I can remember.”

He said the area around the McDonald’s, especially with the Red Line right out front, has “always been a problem,” and with the new Whole Foods kitty-corner to the McDonald’s, more and more people will be drawn to the area.

“It goes away a little bit when the police are patrolling, like they are now, but it doesn’t solve the problem,” he said. “Mayor Lightfoot talked about improving crime, and it doesn’t seem to be improved. Not only around here but in all of Chicago. I can’t quite understand what’s going on.”


Video: Shooting in Chicago's downtown leaves at least two dead (Reuters)

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The 18th District, where the McDonald’s is located, has seen an increase from five to 15 shooting victims this year through May 18, according to official police data. That total is expected to jump after Thursday night’s shooting.

The city had been shocked earlier in the week by the fatal shooting of 16-year-old Seandell Holliday near The Bean in Millennium Park. It was unclear what role new rules that went into effect Thursday closing Millennium Park to unaccompanied minors might have played in moving groups of young people to other parts of downtown.

Brown rejected the idea the Millennium Park limits on youths played into the shooting or the moving of the gathering place for younger people. He noted the corner has been a “long-standing” problem spot and blamed the gunfire on the easy availability of guns.

“It’s not based off anything related to Millennium Park,” Brown said, including the use of police resources there compared to other places in the center of the city.

“This is a gun crime crisis in our city and our country,” Brown said. Because someone in the crowd who was involved in the argument had a weapon, gunfire erupted.

“We are awash in guns,” Brown said.

The person detained in Thursday’s shooting has not yet been identified as police are working with prosecutors to charge the possible shooter, Brown said. Police are “confident our officers captured the shooter and recovered the weapon used.”

Brown again also blamed the court system for gun offenders receiving lower bonds with putting more alleged criminals back onto the streets. Top judges and legal experts have questioned that correlation.

The two fatalities in the shooting included Antonio Wade, 30, who died due to multiple gunshot wounds and his death was ruled a homicide, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office. Police had said he was shot in the chest and pronounced dead at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

The second person who died was a 31-year-old man, who was shot in the back and pronounced dead at Stroger Hospital, police said.

The most seriously wounded victim appeared to be a 19-year-old man shot in the chest who was listed in critical condition at Northwestern, police said.

On the night of the shooting, a Red Line train traveling through the area was stopped between stations while authorities searched for a weapon on the subway’s rails, said Chief Juan Hernandez, a spokesperson with the Fire Department. He added that the department evacuated the CTA passengers at about 11:30 p.m.

Shortly before then, responders were seen removing people — at least two who appeared to be badly injured — from an area between the McDonald’s and the subway entrance on the northeast corner of State and Chicago.

Amid the chaos of the shooting’s aftermath, a woman yelled at an officer standing near the station entrance, “What hospital? My brother got shot!”

As paramedics and officers worked the scene a fight erupted between two people across the street. Shortly after 11:15 p.m. a group crossed a line of police tape and argued with officers before they were pushed back.

Deonna Jackson, 18, had come downtown to hang out with her friends.

“I was getting off the train and I spotted a group of teens fighting,” Jackson said. “The teens started rushing toward me and they’re all attacking one person — they were jumping someone.”

“I’m kind of used to that happening right here, but I just don’t involve myself.” Jackson separated herself from the tussle and “made it to the corner.”

That’s when a girl approached her, asked what was happening and asked Jackson for help, explaining that she was trying to find her friend who may have been involved in the fight.

Jackson began making her way to a 7-Eleven across the street, but things weren’t over.

“All of a sudden shots went off,” Jackson said.

Chicago Tribune’s Stephanie Casanova and Rosemary Sobol contributed.

pfry@chicagotribune.com

asanchez@chicagotribune.com

sahmad@chicagotribune.com

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